Thursday, December 28, 2006

Ekkehard Ehlers

No boundaries, please. We live in an age of parallel listening. History is stored in soundfiles, the needle being their connecting factor as it jumps from groove to groove. Sound is information which will not be encumbered by time or space. Search engines like Google bear testimony to this. Robert Johnson, Albert Ayler, Ekkehard Ehlers - one click and you get thousands of hits. Because of Ehlers' ten-track-cd "Plays" (released in 2002 as staubgold 30) they sometimes overlap. With these tracks, he paid homage to the famous delta bluesman and New York's cosmic and universal saxophone player among others.

After his preoccupation with Schönberg, John Cage, blissful techno and happy house, on "A Life Without Fear" Ehlers has been searching for a historic position. This serves as a reference which in turn encourages subjective formulations. In the blues, a world presumed lost or rather: the belief in a world presumed to be doomed manifests itself. Chernobyl, 9/11, New Orleans: Like Johnson, Eddie "Son" House or the other stray protagonists of the blues, Ehlers has no intention to be an accomplice of present circumstances, nor does he want to be their vicegerent. In Ehlers' music, it is rather a room for thought which is opened up by the sound of a guitar reverberating in an amplifier's speaker or the ascending overtone of a harmonica. It is about "a state of consciousness", as Greil Marcus put it in "Mystery Train" with regard to Robert Johnson, "a tension which arises when almost everything is tacitly implied, when the simplest words house the most evil secrets". The lyrics on "A Life Without Fear" operate in the same way, but more often than not their narrative is fragmentary: "Strange things are happenin'" – Charles Haffer jr.'s rendition of this sentence is not a bleary melancholic singsong but a study in alertness.

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